Are my kids brats?
Last weekend was very bad. I went back to work on Monday feeling totally defeated. I mean, who wants to spend the weekend with bratty children, even when they are your own (or is it especially when they are your own?).
Forgive me for going on a small tangent. My son is going to be 7 in a couple of months. I have been dreading this age for years. Having a little boy has been such a blessing. Little boys just love their Mamas and he has always been the sweetest little guy. Seven doesn’t sound like a “little boy” anymore. The days of him wanting to sit on my lap while I read him a story will probably end soon. My heart breaks thinking about it.
He has been going through a defiant stage lately, and it is very frustrating. Last weekend, a lot of his time was spent in the time-out corner because he refused to do the simplest things he was asked. He is also going through a copying everything I say phase. It is really obnoxious and annoying. I told him, “Whoever told you that copying everything someone says is funny or cute lied to you.” He looked at me kind of confused and then shrugged me off. At one point, I calmly and sincerely asked him to please stop copying me, and it did stop for a few days . . .
Okay, back to last weekend. Saturday morning, I took the kids to the local library. We live near a small town, and I know the librarian fairly well. It all started off rather perfectly. The library is small, and there was only one other person in there. There really is no rule about being super quiet – I often hear people having conversations at full volume. We went to the kids’ section and I told them they could each pick out a book or two. My daughter picked hers out right away. I read to my kids a lot, and now my son has started reading. So, we had some discussion about the books and then my daughter wanted me to read one of her books to her while my son picked out his last one. The librarian was holding something for me I had ordered online, and the kids also wanted to pick out some movies. Super duper. She commented about how much my kids love books, and even gave me a “Good for you!”
While I was checking our items out, my kids started running around, chasing each other through the aisles. They were told to stop, and they did, for a few minutes. Then, they started again. I stopped chatting with the librarian, gathered my stuff and told them it was time to go. The library has a short hallway with a bathroom and a conference room. My daughter started to follow me, while my son decided to go down the hallway instead of toward the exit. I said, “I’m leaving. Bye.” This usually works, but in this case, it totally backfired on me.
My daughter freaked out. I have never actually left them anywhere (because they usually come when I say I’m leaving). In this case, she seemed to think I was really going to leave my son, so she started shouting his name! In the library! Good grief. I said, “Linda’s not going to let me leave you here.” Implying the librarian doesn’t want to be around bratty kids either.
I went down the hall toward the conference room, but discovered that my son was in the bathroom. I discovered this when he yelled.
My kids know how to behave. So far, we get glowing reports of their behavior at school and Sunday school. They behave beautifully for other people, but they test the boundaries with my husband and me. I’m told this is normal, but the testing on this day was off the charts.
I bent down and calmly and quietly said, “This is a library. It’s not a place to yell. I know you learned this in school.” We all moved quietly toward the exit, as I mouthed, “Sorry!” to the librarian. On the way to the car, I informed them that they would not be coming to the library again for quite some time. In the car, on the way home, I threw in that the librarian knows all of my son’s teachers. He was concerned about this. Why does he care so much more about what other people think than his Mom? Familiarity? Again, I’m told it’s normal, but it is rather discouraging.
That afternoon, my cousin got married. My kids were fairly well behaved during the ceremony. We got to the reception, and they would not sit still, spinning around, dangerously close to tripping people at times. My patience was probably a little short from the experience of the library, the stress of getting everyone ready on time, etc. So, it wasn’t long after we ate that I decided it was time to go.
I talked to my Mom the next day, and she said she thought they were fine. Other kids were running around too. I just hate for anyone to think my kids are bratty – yet here I am telling everyone on the internet that they are. Give me a screwdriver. I think I have a screw loose.
So, here was the problem. My daughter really likes to dance. She’s only been to one other wedding reception, and she got to dance at that one, so she was looking forward to it. We left before the DJ started. We got halfway to the car when she decided we were going back. Visibility in this parking lot was not good, and she was about to run back through the parking lot. When I wouldn’t let her, she started screaming and sat down. I had to pick her up and carry her to the car. She is almost 4. Too old to act this way. She also weighs over 40 lbs. Not easy to carry, kicking and screaming. Horrifying experience #2 concluded.
Sunday. Church. My son was being obnoxious. My daughter wasn’t being too bad, until 25 minutes in, when an older couple asked to use two of the seven seats the four of us were taking up. She started yelling something I couldn’t quite make out. Yelling. In church! I gave her the big-eyed, clenched-jaw, “knock-it-off” look. The yelling continued. I whispered, “We do NOT yell in church.” The yelling continued. The whispered threats began. “No playground.” More yelling. “No penny march.” More yelling. “No Kids’ church.” “I don’t want to go to kids’ church!” I looked at my husband who gave me the “What’s the problem?” face. “I don’t know!” He was in the aisle, so he carried her out. They returned several minutes later, and she was quiet . . . until she realized she had missed the penny march. It was time to take the kids out. I carried her toward the back, but not before she could yell, crying, “I want to do the penny march!”
We went to the gathering area, where I sat her on my lap and explained that she missed the penny march because she was too naughty. She told me she was yelling because she didn’t want those people to sit by us. I explained that we can’t take up the whole row, and she was being rude. Apparently she didn’t realize that kids’ church and Sunday School are the same thing. I asked if she wanted to go to Sunday School and she was all over it. “Yeah!” With a nod, she jumped off my lap and scurried off to her Sunday School room where, I’m sure, she behaved perfectly.
Are We Bad Parents?
As I said, the weekend ended with me feeling totally defeated. I questioned myself. While I know we aren’t perfect, I thought we had good kids. Is this what every weekend will be like for the next several years? What are we doing wrong? What can we do?
I prayed. I went to work, feeling more exhausted than when I had left on Friday. I decided to shake it off. Maybe it was just a bad weekend. What good does worrying do anyway?
Another weekend just concluded. On Saturday, I spent two hours painting the basement, which we are in the process of finishing. The kids hung out, and while there were moments of naughtiness, overall they behaved fairly well. My husband was tiling the bathroom, so I decided to take the kids to lunch to get all of us out of his hair. I gave them the choice of going to the playground in the afternoon or going to the drive-in that night. They chose the movie. Good. Leverage for good behavior at the restaurant. Any time they started to get out of line, they were reminded that there would be no movie if they behaved poorly. They were quite good. By the end of lunch, they had decided they wanted the playground instead. Fine. We went to a nearby playground. My son objected slightly when it was time to go, but overall, they did what they were told, and left without too much of a fight.
Today – Sunday. Church again. We had a chat with my daughter in the car about no yelling in church, and whoever wants to sit next to us is free to do so. I also talked to my son about sitting up and not flopping all over. Good behavior. Praise the Lord!
We went to lunch after. Good behavior. We went to the Family Christian store after. We had a little chat before entering. There are breakable items in the store. There is to be no running around and no yelling. Good behavior.
Did all of the chats before the events this weekend cause the good behavior? Possibly. Was it the bribery of the playground or movie? The threat of those things being taken away? I’m not sure.
Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned – don’t let one bad weekend doom your thoughts about the future, convince you that you’re kids are brats, or make you feel you’re a bad parent. Sometimes, it’s just a bad weekend.